The Web Analytics Community

Like many web analysts, I pretty much “fell” into this field. Coming from Law and Psychology degrees, it certainly wasn’t a clear path. At the time, I happened to be an assistant, and the web analytics team happened to need “temporary” help. Five years later, here I am: incredibly grateful to have fallen into a field that is fascinating, in high demand, and full of smart, engaged people.

Here’s a great example: the Analysis Exchange. This program brings together “students” of web analytics, mentors to support them, and non-profit organisations needing analytics assistance. (Note: I say “student” because you don’t need to be an actual student.) There are currently 1,000 members, and no open projects. As many needs as there are out there, the analytics community is rushing to fill them.

The fascinating thing about the Analysis Exchange is the skill level of some (probably most!) of the “students”. My first project (and currently only project – see above, no open projects!) went a little like this: Wow, my student is smart. I hope there’s even anything I can help him with! (He later said there was. I hope he wasn’t humouring me…!)

In fact, as Analysis Exchange mentor Jason Thompson commented on Twitter recently, many of the people we look up to in the analytics community are offering their services as students! When I myself first signed up, I was torn between student and mentor. Yes, I currently manage a team of analysts. However, would I be knowledgeable enough in a completely different setting and business model? Not to mention,  any good analyst can always use more hands-on experience! So I won’t lie – going in as a student definitely crossed my mind. The basis for my eventual decision to be a mentor was that I wanted to leave the full-on student experience for those interested in web analytics, who may not have access to data or real life examples.

So here’s how our community works. You have a group of people who are in high demand, flat-out at their “real jobs”, with a real life outside of work. Despite this, they volunteer their time for 1) their own continued education and development and 2) to assist others in their growth. Most of these people never really think they’re ready to be a mentor, because no one considers themselves to be an “expert”. We think there’s always more to know, more to learn.

Web Analytics is developing fast. But with these people in our community, there is no worry that we won’t keep up. In fact, we’ll keep pushing, and moving our field even further forward.

PS. You know you’re addicted to Twitter when you have to consciously write “the web analytics community” rather than the “#measure community”.

5 thoughts on “The Web Analytics Community

  1. I did my first AE project as a student and the second as a mentor.
    To be honest, as much as I enjoyed both, I think the student role was much more engaging, fun and productive – purely because it involved doing the bulk of the work. Having said that, I’m now looking for a project so that I can mentor a relative beginner who’s approached me. Aren’t we all lovely, though, bless our britches! 🙂
    But seriously folks, some of the effort and caring of those in the #mea…web analytics community is truly awe-inspiring.

  2. Great post Michele

    I for one have been a member of Analysis Exchange since Feb 2010 and sadly still yet to be selected for a project. Boo hoo…get the violins out!

    I don’t think the exchange has seen a UK non-profit org yet which would certainly increase chances of getting selected for a project.

    Anyway, like you, I too am a student. Why? Exactly like you again. So it’s comforting knowing that I am not the only one who chose to be a student as opposed to a mentor. Obviously I would like to become a mentor soon but not until I get a project under my belt first.

    As for the web analytics community, the first person who I ever spoke to within the community (or #measure) was actually Jason himself which was back in October 2009. Since then the community has grown, people pop in and then out again and then return for a while and then go again….but something I would like to point out is that the people who I got to know back in October 2009……are still heavily involved today. How great is that?

    To me the #measure community is more than just Twitter buddies, I learn from them, we share ideas, we help each other when we have problems and to know that 24 hours a day….now who would not want to be involved in a community like this?

    Is #measure the fuel for the Analysis Exchange?

  3. Hi Pritesh. I remember discussing this via Twitter with you and Jason – we were definitely on the same page as to the mentor vs. student dilemma, and it sounds like we’re not alone!

    I absolutely think #measure fuels the Analysis Exchange – I feel that you’re either engaged with the community, which means you’re all-in via Twitter, Web Analytics groups, Analysis Exchange, etc, or you’re not. It definitely seems like a similar core group.

    I really do think it’s impressive – I agree Emer, it’s pretty awe inspiring what lengths people will go to. It makes me feel very proud to be a part of such an amazing group of people.

  4. I am simply honored to even read this post and the comments. When we envisioned Analysis Exchange I certainly knew the effort had potential but to see us hit the 1,000 member mark and to read so many nice blog posts like yours Michele makes me really proud of our entire community.

    Keep up the awesome work (and Pritesh, trust me, we are looking for global partners who can help bring in non-U.S. nonprofits every week!)

    Eric T. Peterson

  5. Pingback: Analysis Exchange | MichaelDHealy.com

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